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Video aimed at improving broiler welfare

A new video highlighting best practice for assessing broiler behaviour has been launched in the UK.

It was created following collaborative work by The Co-op, their chicken supplier, 2 Sisters Food Group, and research partners FAI Farms and the University of Bristol.

The training video captures on-farm footage of broilers performing positive behaviours and describes why these behaviours are important for bird welfare. Photo: FAI Farms Ltd
The training video captures on-farm footage of broilers performing positive behaviours and describes why these behaviours are important for bird welfare. Photo: FAI Farms Ltd

Over the last 4 years, The Co-op has partnered with FAI Farms and the University of Bristol to undertake research into the assessment of broiler behaviour by farmers.

Gaps in current training

This research highlighted gaps in the current training provided to new broiler farmers. Firstly, around the importance of observing broiler behaviour and secondly, how farmers could improve welfare through the encouragement of positive behaviours.

Expression of specific behaviours that are important to an animal is crucial in ensuring they have a life worth living.” - Annie Rayner, research manager at FAI farms and PhD student at the University of Bristol.

Positive behaviours

Positive behaviours are natural behaviours that animals are highly motivated to perform, and these create positive experiences for the birds, resulting in enjoyment or pleasure.

Opportunities to display positive behaviours is an important way to improve the quality of life for animals.

Positive behaviours for broilers include:

  • wing flapping
  • running
  • jumping
  • dustbathing
  • scratching at the litter

The training video captures on-farm footage of broilers performing positive behaviours and describes why these behaviours are important for bird welfare.

It then goes on to highlight the importance of litter, describing why maintaining dry and friable litter is not only good for the health of the birds, but also acts as another source of environmental enrichment for birds to interact with and perform positive behaviours.

The training video also describes how to observe birds, encouraging farmers to take time out of their day to simply watch the birds as this is the best way to understand the behaviour of the birds and can help farmers to quickly spot when something is not be quite right.

Annie Rayner, research manager at FAI farms and PhD student at the University of Bristol, said: “Expression of specific behaviours that are important to an animal is crucial in ensuring they have a life worth living.

“Good farm management is key to providing opportunities for these behaviours.

“This video is a much-needed resource to train producers in what to look for and to pay attention to the behaviour of their birds.

“With 20 million broilers a week being produced in the UK and this video being made available to the entire UK industry, we hope that this resource helps towards improving the welfare of millions of birds.”